Risk factors for esophagitis vary depending on the different causes of the disorder.

Reflux esophagitis

Factors that increase the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — and therefore are factors in reflux esophagitis — include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Hiatal hernia, a condition in which the stomach pushes through the opening in the diaphragm where the esophagus joins the stomach

A number of foods may worsen symptoms of GERD or reflux esophagitis:

  • Tomato-based foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Garlic and onions
  • Chocolate
  • Mint-flavored foods

Eosinophilic esophagitis

Risk factors for eosinophilic esophagitis, or allergy-related esophagitis, may include:

  • A family history of the disorder, suggesting that a gene or genes may increase the risk of eosinophilic esophagitis
  • A family history of allergies

Drug-induced esophagitis

Factors that may increase the risk of drug-induced esophagitis are generally related to issues that prevent quick and complete passage of a pill into the stomach. These factors include:

  • Swallowing a pill with little or no water
  • Taking drugs while lying down
  • Taking drugs right before sleep, probably due in part to the production of less saliva and swallowing less during sleep
  • Older age, possibly because of age-related changes to the muscles of the esophagus or a decreased production of saliva
  • Large or oddly shaped pills

Infectious esophagitis

The primary risk factor for infectious esophagitis is poor immune system function due to such conditions as HIV/AIDS and certain cancers. Increased risk may also be due to certain cancer treatments, drugs that block immune system reactions to transplanted organs (immunosuppressants) and various immune system disorders.

Sep. 15, 2011